Triad Factory Tour and DS4 Speakers
By Chris Heinonen on
Tucked off in a nondescript business park just outside of Portland International Airport is Triad Speakers. You can be forgiven for thinking that this is likely the business side of Triad, while their assembly operations certainly have to be overseas somewhere, right? But inside you’ll go in and find one of the more amazing setups you have seen.
Triad Speakers was acquired by Control4 earlier this year, one of a number of acquisitions for Control4 recently. Control4 is designed to make your home, not just your AV system, easier and more user-friendly. Triad fits into that setup by allowing your music system to be as visible or invisible as you want it to be. When you think of custom install speakers, you usually think of something you’ll put inside a wall or ceiling. Triad goes much further, letting you truly customize your custom install speakers as much as you would like.
Do you want a high-end bookshelf speaker to go in your living room? That’s easy. Perhaps you want it to be wood grain, but not just any wood grain. You want it to match the built-in wood bookshelves you have in that room. And it has to be so high and so deep because those shelves are fixed into position. When your dealer brings this to Triad, they’ll say “Sure, and what level of speaker drivers do they want?”
Walking around Triad, you’ll quickly notice there are not finished speakers laying around, or stacked on shelves. The only speakers in the building that are finished are those that were built that day and are waiting for the FedEx or UPS person to come get them or the ones in their demo theater. You’ll see lots of raw MDF, CNC machines to cut it, booths to paint it, racks of drivers to select from to build them, and stations to test them. Even the packing materials for Triad are custom built from a local company so as not to take up extra space in the factory. I was at Triad two weeks ago, and by this point every speaker I saw being built, and most likely all of the MDF and boxes in there have been used and delivered to customers.
When you see this, you understand how they work with Control4. You can get any kind of speaker you want for your situation. A sound bar that’s the exact width of your TV? Some bookshelf speakers to go behind your projection screen along with matching in-wall surrounds and height channels? They can do almost anything, and having reviewed their Gold bookshelf speakers in the past, I can tell you they sound fantastic as well.
I wasn’t just there to see the factory, though. Instead, I was there to get a preview of a new speaker they had designed and were going to be showing at CEDIA this year. The new Designer Series is an in-wall speaker or subwoofer that is hardly visible but offers ultra-wide dispersion along with the ability to easily repair them if something goes wrong.
I had my own experience with installing speakers this past year. It required big cuts into drywall, lots of work, and they are clearly visible to people that come over. The Designer Series is completely hidden, aside from a single 4” round or square port that is flush-mounted to the ceiling. To have such a tiny visible area, it means most of the speaker components are hidden behind the ceiling. It also means that in almost all cases, you’re going to have to install them before the ceiling is put in, or during a major renovation. So what if something goes wrong once the speaker is installed, and stuck behind drywall?
Triad thought of this and designed it so all the drivers and crossovers are serviceable through the 4” opening. It’s easier to do if you have small hands and wrists like me, but you can pop off the grill, reach in, and replace any or all of the components. If a tweeter blows for some reason, it can be repaired without needing to pull the whole speaker out. It’s certainly much easier to do this than how much work it is going to take me if one of my speakers ever has an issue.
But this doesn’t matter unless it sounds good. The Triad demo units were not installed in the ceiling but were stand mounted for us in a conference room. Listening to Daft Punk as I walked around the room, the dispersion that the speakers manage is very impressive. I could walk from side to side, going almost even with the speaker itself, and still hear all the detail. They aren’t going to replace your full-range in-wall speakers with 6” or 8” drivers, but they aren’t going to disappoint when they are your in-ceiling speakers for the kitchen, bedroom, or living room.
We finally got to see them installed in the home of Triad founded Larry Pexton. He was installing them to serve at Atmos channels in the ceiling, while other Triad in-ceiling speakers served the role of the five main channels. The DS4 speakers were almost impossible to notice in the ceiling, and the speaker system combined with an LG OLED showing Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation made for a great viewing experience. The system had no components taking up space in the room at all, just a TV mounted to the fireplace (but thankfully not too high) and a speaker system hidden in the ceiling.
The Designer Series currently has two models, the DS4-FR Full range with a 2.5” full-range driver and a pair of 3”x6” woofers and the DS4-SUB with three 3”x6” woofers. Each is $1,400 and is available now from Triad. Before we left, we had to get a demo of the Triad theater in an Atmos environment. There were two systems, one using their Silver bookshelf speakers and one using the Cinema Reference line. With four 21″ subwoofers they could easily fill the room with as much bass as anyone could handle, but tuned it to reference levels that sounded fantastic.
This speaker is the first product from the Control4-Triad partnership, and we’re looking forward to seeing what else they will have at CEDIA this year and beyond. I’m certain they’ll continue to find ways to integrate music into your life but without having it need to be the focal point of the room it is in.